Alumni Spotlight: Nora Rich

Nora is a senior at the College of Charleston majoring in Spanish and minoring in Linguistics. She works in the study abroad office on her campus and spends her summers at camp as a counselor.


Why did you pick this program?

I picked this program because it had all the specific requirements I wanted out of my semester abroad and because it had classes that would fit with my coursework at my own college. I wanted a program that had no Friday classes and had a number of excursions, including one to Morocco. This program had all of that and was in a city that was neither too big nor too small.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Everyone who has the opportunity and means to go abroad should do so. It's an experience that can shape your life and allow you to learn a lot about yourself. You also do not need to have a specific major to go abroad, anyone can do so with some careful planning. It will never again be so easy for you to spend time living abroad and taking full advantage of the opportunities that experience has to offer.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Take all of the opportunities offered to you, including excursions, volunteering in the community, and intercambios; they are the best way to get to know the city, country, and its culture. It's important to get as much out of your semester abroad as possible, because the time will fly by. AIFS has a lot of opportunities to take advantage of to make the most of your experience, and after the semester ends, you will be grateful that you did as much as possible.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

One of my favorite stories from my semester in Granada is a very simple one. On an afternoon only a month or so into my stay, I went with my host mother and host sister to walk the dog, Rita. My host family lives only a 15 minute walk from the Alhambra, the biggest tourist destination in all of Spain, so of course that is where we went on our walk.

Much of the grounds of the Alhambra are open and free to walk through, so we wandered up the hill and through the grounds. On the way up we took Rita off her leash and let her run around. She ducked into a few places she wasn't supposed to go and threatened to run through the stream, but she had a blast and so did I. It was a simple way to spend an afternoon bonding with my host family and was an important reminder that I was living so close to such incredible history.

What do you wish you knew before you went abroad?

Before going, or at the beginning of my semester, I wish I knew about more of the holidays and festivals in Spain. The country has a lot of famous festivals throughout the year that are a huge part of the culture. I didn't know about a lot of them and ended up scheduling weekend trips when I could have gone to some of the festivals. In particular, I was disappointed to miss out on the week long celebration of Semana Santa around Easter and La Feria de abril, in Sevilla, which is a multi-day fair held shortly after Semana Santa.